Dental X-Rays

Table of Contents

Dental x-rays or also known as dental radiography is a procedure performed to capture images of the interior of your teeth using x-rays.

The x-rays will help your dentist determine whether you have dental caries, periodontal (gum) disease, abscesses or abnormal growths, such as tumours or cysts. Dental X-rays can also show the location and condition of the impacted teeth.

Dental X-rays is important to diagnose your oral health in order to determine the appropriate medical procedure or treatment.

In its practice, dental X-rays are operated by experienced medical workers and have a dental radiography certification

Purposes of Dental X-Rays (Radiographs) 

The main purpose of dental X-rays is to obtain images that cannot be captured with the naked eye. You may have dental x-rays after you consult with your dentist.

If your dentist feels there are symptoms of the disease that require further examination, your  dentist will ask you to do a dental X-ray to a hospital or clinic that is referred by your dentist/ 

Who Needs a Dental X-Ray?

Patients with healthy teeth may undergo dental x-rays to prevent oral diseases. 

However, dental x-rays are generally performed if you have the potential to develop dental disease. Dental x-rays are required to detect diseases such as:

  • Bone loss in the jaw.
  • Cavities
  • Cysts and some types of tumors.
  • Caries, especially small cavity in between the teeth.
  • Abscess (infection of the root of the tooth or between the gum and tooth).
  • Root canals infections
  • The condition and position of the teeth help prepare for dental implants, braces, dentures, or other dental procedures.

Dental x-rays are also required by children to inform conditions such as developing caries, to analyze whether they are ready for tooth development — for example, if wisdom teeth have developed and if the teeth have collapsed (cannot pass through the gums).

Cost Estimation for Dental X-Rays (Radiographs) 

The cost for dental x-rays may vary from hospital to hospital and clinic. However, it will depend on the equipment used, the services offered, and the methods used.

For a more accurate cost estimation of dental x-rays, contact Smarter Health.

Pre-Dental X-Rays 

Dental X-rays do not require special preparation. The only thing you need to do is brush your teeth before the appointment.

This is done to create a more hygienic environment when you get your dental x-rays.

During Dental X-Rays

In a dental x-ray procedure, there are several methods that may affect the x-ray results. The method of dental x-rays is determined based on your needs.

Each method has a different way of procedure, as well. These methods include:

  • Intraoral
    In general, this method is more detailed than extraoral x-rays and are intended to detect the presence of cavities, examine the roots of the teeth and surrounding bone, monitor dentition, and obtain information about your general dental health. Types of intraoral dental x-rays include:
    • Bitewing: This method shows details of the upper and lower teeth in an area of ​​the mouth. This procedure shows the tooth from its crown (exposed surface) to the supporting bone. Bitewing dental x-rays detect decay between the teeth and changes in the thickness of the bone caused by gum disease. A bitewing x-ray can also help determine the exact size of a dental crown (the top that surrounds the tooth) or other fixes (such as dental bridges). This method can also see any wear or breakdown of dental fillings.
    • Periapical: This method shows the tooth as a whole, from the crown to the root where the tooth attaches into the jaw. Each periapical X-ray shows all teeth in one part of the upper or lower jaw. Periapical X-rays detect any unusual changes in the roots and surrounding bone structure.
    • Occlusal tracks the development and placement of an entire tooth in the upper or lower jaw
  • Extraoral
    The extraoral may be useful in identifying the presence and position of impacted teeth. Some medical professionals also use this procedure to diagnose tumors in the mouth and surrounding structures.
    • Panoramic X-rays show the entire mouth area – all the teeth in the upper and lower jaws on a single X-ray. This method detects the position of the teeth that have fully emerged, can see the impacted teeth and helps diagnose tumors.
    • Tomograms show certain layers or “slices” of the mouth and blurs out other layers. This x-ray examines structures that are difficult to see clearly because other nearby structures block the view. 
    • Cephalometrics show an entire side of the head. This x-ray looks at the teeth in relation to the jaw. Doctors use this method to make specific teeth adjustments. 
    • Sialogram uses a dye that is injected into the salivary glands so that they can be seen on an x-ray film. This is done because the salivary glands are soft tissue that cannot be seen on x-rays. Your doctor may order this test to look for problems in the salivary glands, such as blockage, or Sjogren’s syndrome, a disorder with symptoms including dry mouth and dry eyes. This disorder can play a role in tooth decay. 

At the time of the dental x-ray procedure, you will remain in a seated position with the x-ray device facing the mouth, while your doctor or trained medical personnel captures the image of your teeth.

Certain methods such as bitewing will require you  to bite off a special kind of paper.

Post-Dental X-Rays

When you have completed the dental x-ray procedure, you will need to wait for the results of these images. If you get your dental x-ray procedure at a different place, then you will need to wait a long time to wait to get your diagnosis.

Then, your doctor will schedule follow-up visits to discuss your diagnoses based on the x-ray images

Understanding Your Dental X-Ray Results

The images obtained from dental x-rays can determine your doctor’s next procedure. If the X-rays show serious symptoms, you must be prepared to undergo other medical procedures to improve your oral health. 

Benefits and Risks of Dental X-Rays 

The main advantage of dental x-rays is the possibility that your dentist will make the correct diagnosis and treatment as he or she can see areas of your teeth and mouth more detailed

Dental x-rays can also be useful as a preventive measure. Some doctors advise patients to have routine dental x-rays every year.

The risk of a dental X-ray is almost similar to any other radiology procedure — which is exposure to x-rays. However, dental x-rays use such low levels of radiation. It is safe for children and adults.

If the x-ray uses digital x-rays instead of using film, the risk from radiation exposure is even lower. However, it is an exception if  the patient is pregnant as x-rays may be harmful to pregnant women —  even with very low levels of radiation.

There are reports that dental X-rays may have the potential to increase the risk of thyroid cancer

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